Top 10 Technology Hazards for 2011: A Guide for Prioritizing Your Patient Safety Initiatives

April 20, 2017 | Evaluations & Guidance


Smarter choices, safer patients. That’s the motto that appears on the front cover of every issue of Health Devices. The choices that affect patient safety cover a broad swath: Device selection decisions play a part, but just as critical are choices about what device settings are used, and how system interfaces are tested, and which ancillary technologies are employed, and when maintenance is performed. The list is long—encompassing all aspects of device management and use—and poor choices can adversely affect patient care. That’s why well-focused patient safety initiatives are such a crucial component of any healthcare facility’s technology management program.

With that in mind, we developed our annual list of the top 10 health technology hazards to be a tool that healthcare facilities can use to prioritize their patient safety efforts. Our list presents the potential sources of danger that we believe warrant the greatest attention to increase awareness and prevent risks for the coming year. Some of the topics reflect frequently reported problems, while others are less common. But all address problems that can adversely affect patient care—problems that can be prevented, or at least made less likely, if effective risk-mitigation strategies are employed.

Note that our list does not reflect the problems reported most often in the past or enumerate the hazards with the most severe consequences—although we did consider such information in our analysis. Rather, it reflects our judgment about which risks should receive priority now, a judgment that is based on our review of recent recalls and other actions we’ve examined, our analysis of information found in the literature and in the medical device problem reporting databases of ECRI Institute and other organizations, and our experience in investigating and consulting on device-related incidents. Some topics remain from last year’s list, and some are new.

The objective of this article is to increase awareness of these hazards and to stimulate action within healthcare facilities to formulate programs that succeed in minimizing the dangers. Thus, we present the guidance that leaders in hospital administration, clinical departments, and clinical engineering need in order to improve patient safety through the development and implementation of high-impact patient safety initiatives related to specific technologies.

For each topic in the list, we provide:

We encourage you to incorporate this information into plans of action at your hospital and to find individuals in the relevant departments who can take the time to learn each hazard in depth and educate and influence their peers on an ongoing basis about these risks and the corresponding risk-mitigation strategies.

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